Mar 02 2017

Brisbane’s 31 Digital goes off-air

Brisbane’s community TV channel 31 Digital is now off the air and has converted to online operation.

The station, which was operating on UHF Channel 28 from Mount Coot-tha, closed its free-to-air broadcast on 28 February at 11.59pm (AEST), even though the Federal Government had given the community TV sector a further six month reprieve after the previous December 2016 deadline for stations to convert to online broadcast.

The station debuted in 1994 as Briz31 (the number taken from the analogue broadcast frequency) and later identified as 31, QCTV and then 31 Digital. Digital transmission launched in 2010 following a campaign by the community TV stations to gain access to digital spectrum.

Some of the programs produced by the station were The Boat Show, Tamara Tonite, The Very Anne Show, Nicky Noo And The “oo” Crew, Meet The Ministers and The Late Nite Show.

YouTube: 31 Digital

31 Digital has re-launched as Q Online TV and can be found at

Now only C31 in Melbourne, 44 in Adelaide and WTV in Perth are still on free-to-air television. (Sydney’s TVS went off-air in December 2015). Unless the Government grants another extension these stations will be off-air in a few months time.

So far there has been no announcement as to what the Government intends to do with the broadcast spectrum being handed back by the community television stations.

YouTube: Australian TV Fan



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Feb 05 2017

Nine News Regional ready for launch

Nine News Regional, the joint venture between the Nine Network and regional Southern Cross, kicks off this Monday.

The first of 15 bulletins to roll out for the network is Nine News Canberra, debuting Monday 6 February at 6pm, presented by former ABC News Breakfast presenter Vanessa O’Hanlon (pictured)

The one-hour bulletin, presented from Nine’s Sydney studio, is a composite of national news with inserts of local news relevant to the Canberra market.

YouTube: Media and Transport Channel

The following Monday the format expands to Nine News Illawarra — with other regions in Southern NSW, regional Victoria and regional Queensland to be progressively rolled out.

O’Hanlon will present the NSW and Canberra bulletins, Jo Hall will present the Victorian editions from Melbourne, and Samantha Heathwood for regional Queensland from Nine’s Brisbane studios.

The format is largely based on the popular NBN News which is based in Newcastle but broadcasts to regions across Northern NSW. (NBN is owned by Nine)

The new-look bulletins have come about following Nine and Southern Cross forming an affiliation last year. As part of the deal Southern Cross pays Nine a significant portion of all revenue received for access to Nine’s programming.

Southern Cross was able to use this premium as leverage for Nine to provide a dedicated regional news service for relay across the Southern Cross Nine regions.

Nine has employed in excess of 80 staff spread across Queensland, New South Wales/ACT and Victoria to support this expanded news coverage.

It is a stark contrast to Southern Cross’ previous local news offerings when it was a Network Ten outlet in Queensland, Southern NSW, Canberra and Victoria — where news coverage was limited to brief two-minute updates inserted into commercial breaks over the course of the day, presented from centralised facilities in Canberra.

Rival regional network Prime7 is responding to Southern Cross’ news changes with its own revamp. From Monday 13 February Madelaine Collignon and Kenny Heatley will jointly present the various Prime7 local news bulletins for NSW and Victoria, which are produced from studios in Canberra.




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Feb 05 2017

Obituary: Fred Parslow

Stage, film and television actor Fred Parslow has died at the age of 84.

Parslow started at the Union Theatre Repertory Company (now Melbourne Theatre Company) in 1955 and appeared in many of its productions.

He also featured in television from its earliest days, including comedy sketches on In Melbourne Tonight and The Ray Taylor Show and starring in early ABC plays such as As You Are, The Rivals, Boy Round The Corner and She’ll Be Right.

Later television credits included The Magic Boomerang, The Sullivans, Bluey, Against The Wind, Skyways, Neighbours, The Paper Man, Mission Top Secret, telemovie Burn The Butterflies (pictured) and mini-series A Long Way From Home.

In 1971 Parslow appeared in an early anti-smoking campaign for the Cancer Council but the commercial, which showed him in a parody of the Marlboro Man, was never aired. Commercial channels refused to broadcast the ad as it risked the amount of revenues that were coming in from the cigarette companies. (Tobacco advertising was not banned from television until 1976)

He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1987, for service to the performing arts.

Fred Parslow died on 26 January. He is survived by son Justin Harris Parslow. His wife, actress Joan Harris, died in September last year.

Source: Melbourne Theatre Company, IMDB, Wikipedia, The ABV2 Page, Cancer Council Victoria, TV Tonight.




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Feb 04 2017

Ratings 2016: The final scorecard

OzTAM, the official ratings ‘umpire’, has released its final reports for the calendar year 2016.

The reports include consolidated audience figures for the Top 20 programs (including those various reality show ‘winner announced’ segments that are not actual programs), Top 20 multi-channel programs, the most time-shifted programs and where each free-to-air network and channel ended the year. Plus there are rankings for the Top 20 Subscription TV programs and time-shifted programs.

Seven Network ended the year on 29.7% (up 0.7 from last year), followed by Nine (26.6%, down 1.2), Ten (19.1%, up 0.1), ABC (17.6%, down 0.2) and SBS (7.0%, up 0.6). (6pm-12mn, 5 cities, Consolidated 28-days)

At individual channel level: Seven (20.5%, up 0.3), Nine (18.1%, down 1.3), Ten (13.7%, up 0.4), ABC (12.6%, down 0.4), SBS (4.9%, down 0.1) followed by multi-channels 7TWO (4.0%), 9GO (3.8%), 7mate (3.5%), ABC2 (3.1%), One (2.8%), Eleven (2.6%), 9Gem (2.5%), 9Life (2.1%), 7flix (2.0%), ABC News 24 (1.3%), SBS Viceland (1.0%), SBS Food (0.9%), ABC ME (0.7%) and NITV (0.2%).

During the year 7flix debuted, ABC3 became ABC ME and SBS2 became SBS Viceland.

Datacast channels (e.g. TVSN, Extra,, Spree) and community TV channels (C31, 31 Digital, 44 Adelaide, WTV) are not included in the ratings.

Picture: ABC/AAP

Top 20 programs on Free-to-Air for the year 1 January to 31 December 2016 (Consolidated. 5 cities, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth):

1 SEVEN’S AFL: GRAND FINAL: PRESENTATIONS Seven 3,201,000 460,000 1,623,000 391,000 344,000 383,000
2 SEVEN’S AFL: GRAND FINAL: SYDNEY V WESTERN BULLDOGS Seven 3,081,000 540,000 1,473,000 372,000 322,000 374,000
3 RUGBY LEAGUE GRAND FINAL Nine 2,670,000 1,080,000 642,000 721,000 109,000 118,000
4 STATE OF ORIGIN RUGBY LEAGUE NSW V QLD 1ST – MATCH Nine 2,633,000 1,202,000 501,000 828,000 102,000
5 SEVEN’S AFL: GRAND FINAL: POST MATCH Seven 2,342,000 292,000 1,294,000 294,000 250,000 212,000
6 STATE OF ORIGIN RUGBY LEAGUE QLD V NSW 2ND – MATCH Nine 2,315,000 1,005,000 401,000 825,000 84,000
7 MOLLY: PART 1 Seven 2,216,000 580,000 778,000 338,000 229,000 291,000
8 THE BLOCK -WINNER ANNOUNCED Nine 2,210,000 572,000 824,000 358,000 218,000 238,000
9 SEVEN’S AFL: GRAND FINAL: ON THE GROUND Seven 2,176,000 359,000 1,124,000 255,000 189,000 249,000
10 MY KITCHEN RULES-WINNER ANNOUNCED Seven 2,096,000 659,000 613,000 345,000 211,000 269,000
11 STATE OF ORIGIN RUGBY LEAGUE NSW V QLD 3RD – MATCH Nine 2,070,000 848,000 386,000 769,000 67,000
12 THE 2016 MELBOURNE CUP CARNIVAL: MELBOURNE CUP-THE RACE Seven 2,069,000 493,000 975,000 280,000 137,000 184,000
13 MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA – THE WINNER ANNOUNCED TEN 1,999,000 540,000 751,000 257,000 197,000 255,000
14 MY KITCHEN RULES-GRAND FINAL Seven 1,925,000 579,000 544,000 324,000 206,000 273,000
15 THE BLOCK -GRAND FINAL Nine 1,870,000 466,000 723,000 316,000 173,000 193,000
16 MOLLY: PART 2 Seven 1,816,000 452,000 613,000 304,000 217,000 229,000
17 STATE OF ORIGIN RUGBY LEAGUE NSW V QLD 1ST – PRE MATCH Nine 1,800,000 784,000 358,000 553,000 106,000
18 MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA – GRAND FINALE PART 2 TEN 1,785,000 464,000 659,000 236,000 194,000 231,000
19 THE 2016 MELBOURNE CUP CARNIVAL: MELBOURNE CUP-RACE PRESENTATION Seven 1,639,000 384,000 797,000 216,000 94,000 148,000
20 SEVEN’S TENNIS: 2016 AUSTRALIAN OPEN – MEN’S FINAL Seven 1,634,000 446,000 629,000 269,000 130,000 160,000

Top 20 programs on the Free-to-Air digital multi-channels (Consolidated. 5 cities, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth):

1 RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES: DAY 7 – EVENING-MC 7TWO 507,000 101,000 226,000 70,000 58,000 52,000
2 SEVEN’S AFL: SATURDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL 7mate 476,000 33,000 220,000 22,000 118,000 82,000
3 RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES: DAY 4 – EVENING-MC 7TWO 414,000 101,000 134,000 54,000 46,000 79,000
4 AUSTRALIA VOTES: ELECTION NIGHT LIVE-LE ABC News 24 387,000 118,000 68,000 89,000 47,000 65,000
5 RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES: DAY 5 – HIGHLIGHTS-MC 7TWO 376,000 54,000 128,000 79,000 39,000 76,000
6 AUSTRALIA VOTES: ELECTION NIGHT LIVE-EV ABC News 24 366,000 119,000 77,000 73,000 41,000 55,000
7 SHREK 2 -EV 9GO! 358,000 81,000 119,000 56,000 33,000 69,000
8 RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES: DAY 6 – HIGHLIGHTS-MC 7TWO 352,000 59,000 145,000 48,000 47,000 53,000
9 SOCCEROOS – WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS -MATCH 9GO! 351,000 109,000 113,000 65,000 38,000 26,000
10 RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES: DAY 6 – EVENING-MC 7TWO 337,000 53,000 117,000 64,000 43,000 60,000
11 HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2 -EV 9GO! 331,000 97,000 107,000 57,000 38,000 33,000
12 SCHOOL OF ROCK -EV 9GO! 331,000 97,000 101,000 66,000 27,000 40,000
13 HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS -EV 9GO! 322,000 82,000 104,000 62,000 28,000 46,000
14 HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX -EV 9GO! 321,000 91,000 97,000 53,000 30,000 50,000
15 THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES -EV 9GO! 320,000 75,000 114,000 58,000 33,000 39,000
16 SHREK FOREVER AFTER -EV 9GO! 316,000 79,000 111,000 69,000 27,000 31,000
17 RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES: DAY 1 – EVENING-MC 7TWO 315,000 87,000 89,000 60,000 30,000 49,000
18 HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE -EV 9GO! 314,000 90,000 96,000 40,000 39,000 50,000
19 PACIFIC RIM -EV 9GO! 309,000 48,000 76,000 139,000 22,000 25,000
20 PLAY SCHOOL CELEBRITY COVERS-EV ABC2 302,000 57,000 115,000 51,000 32,000 47,000

Samuel Johnson as Molly

Top 20 Time-Shifted Free-to-Air Programs (Consolidated 28, Consolidated 7, Overnight, Time Shift to 28 Days):

1 MOLLY: PART 1 Seven 2,216,000 2,088,000 1,788,000 428,000
2 DOWNTON ABBEY Seven 1,159,000 1,089,000 844,000 315,000
3 WANTED-EP.2 Seven 1,072,000 1,017,000 764,000 308,000
4 MOLLY: PART 2 Seven 1,816,000 1,750,000 1,526,000 290,000
5 THE DOCTOR BLAKE MYSTERIES-EV ABC 1,148,000 1,088,000 874,000 274,000
6 WANTED Seven 1,243,000 1,200,000 969,000 274,000
7 800 WORDS Seven 984,000 934,000 730,000 254,000
8 ROSEHAVEN-EV ABC 734,000 674,000 487,000 247,000
9 THE DURRELLS-EP.2 Seven 661,000 605,000 418,000 243,000
10 THE DURRELLS Seven 799,000 756,000 566,000 234,000
11 THE X-FILES MON TEN 1,021,000 998,000 789,000 232,000
12 800 WORDS-EP.2 Seven 959,000 897,000 728,000 232,000
13 THE SECRET DAUGHTER Seven 1,040,000 1,006,000 809,000 231,000
14 SCOTT AND BAILEY-LE ABC 564,000 527,000 412,000 229,000
15 BROCK – PART 2 TEN 742,000 694,000 522,000 220,000
16 LOVE CHILD Nine 925,000 870,000 706,000 219,000
17 MADAM SECRETARY EP 2 TEN 466,000 402,000 255,000 211,000
18 LOVE CHILD -EP2 Nine 810,000 751,000 210,000
19 THE BLACKLIST-EP.2 Seven 434,000 389,000 227,000 207,000
20 DOCTOR DOCTOR Nine 965,000 949,000 761,000 204,000

Top 20 Subscription TV Programs (national):

8 GAME OF THRONES showcase 437,000
10 GAME OF THRONES showcase 400,000
13 GAME OF THRONES showcase 396,000
14 GAME OF THRONES showcase 385,000
19 GAME OF THRONES showcase 362,000

Top 20 Time-Shifted Subscription TV Programs (national) (Consolidated 28, Consolidated 7, Overnight, Time Shift to 28 days)

1 FROZEN FEVER Foxtel Movies Disney 202,000 116,000 28,000 174,000
2 THE SIMPSONS FOX8 197,000 84,000 30,000 167,000
3 HEY DUGGEE CBeebies 161,000 29,000 0 161,000
4 SUPERGIRL FOX8 214,000 164,000 57,000 157,000
5 SUPERGIRL FOX8 192,000 144,000 41,000 151,000
6 FROZEN FEVER Disney Channel 180,000 130,000 35,000 145,000
7 ZOOTOPIA Foxtel Movies Disney 163,000 88,000 29,000 134,000
8 ZOOTOPIA Foxtel Movies Disney 150,000 67,000 18,000 132,000
9 ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK showcase 153,000 83,000 23,000 130,000
10 ZOOTOPIA Foxtel Movies Disney 182,000 158,000 52,000 130,000
11 SUPERGIRL FOX8 174,000 122,000 44,000 129,000
12 SUPERGIRL FOX8 187,000 145,000 61,000 127,000
13 HEY DUGGEE CBeebies 125,000 42,000 0 125,000
14 MINIONS Foxtel Movies Family 127,000 59,000 3,000 124,000
15 HEY DUGGEE CBeebies 123,000 23,000 0 123,000
16 ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK showcase 132,000 72,000 8,000 123,000
17 SUPERGIRL FOX8 164,000 137,000 42,000 122,000
18 MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE Disney Junior 124,000 3,000 3,000 121,000
19 ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK showcase 136,000 66,000 15,000 121,000
20 SUPERGIRL FOX8 205,000 169,000 86,000 119,000

Data © OzTAM Pty Limited 2017. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of OzTAM.




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Jan 31 2017

SCA, WIN in negotiation over NRN

Southern Cross Austereo has announced that it has entered into talks with WIN Corporation about selling its northern NSW television assets.

SCA operates station NRN (Northern Rivers Television Pty Ltd) as a Network Ten outlet (formerly as Southern Cross Ten) which is opposite to its outlets in regional Victoria, regional Queensland, Southern NSW and ACT where it aligns to the Nine Network, following the affiliation swap of last July.

SCA could not convert NRN to a Nine program relay as rival NBN in the same market is already owned and operated by Nine.

WIN, on the other hand, operates Network Ten affiliates across much of regional Australia including Canberra and Hobart. The northern NSW market is one that has eluded WIN for all these years, including an attempt by WIN to buy NBN almost a decade ago.

The Northern NSW market stretches from the Central Coast in the south, up to the Gold Coast over the Queensland border, and out west to Tamworth and the New England region. The market has a population of over 2.1 million — comparable in size to Perth and greater than Adelaide.

The deal being discussed between SCA and WIN also includes the potential sale of WIN’s Wollongong radio station i98FM to SCA. The station, which began as 2 Double O in 1979, would fill a gap in SCA’s vast regional radio coverage which currently excludes Wollongong.

Source: Southern Cross Austereo (ASX Announcement)



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Jan 26 2017

Home And Away’s Alf in Australia Day Honours

Stone the flamin’ crows! Alf Stewart has been honoured this Australia Day.

Ray Meagher, the actor now in his 30th year Home And Away‘s Alf, has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in this year’s Australia Day Honours.

The honour is in recognition of Meagher’s “service to the performing arts as an actor”. Although he is most famous from Home And Away, Meagher has appeared in numerous other roles over his long career.

Other credits have included television series Matlock Police, Prisoner, A Country Practice, Kingswood Country, Skyways, A Fortunate Life, Five Mile Creek, A Fortunate Life and The Great Bookie Robbery.

Film credits include Newsfront, Money Movers, The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith and The Odd Angry Shot.

He is the only original cast member of Home And Away to still be in the series almost 30 years on, and won a TV Week Gold Logie Award in 2010 (pictured).

Other television identities from past and present to be recognised in this year’s honours included:

Tony Bonner (AM) — “For significant service to the performing arts as an actor, to surf lifesaving, and to the community through charitable organisations.” Bonner first rose to fame as helicopter pilot Jerry King in the series Skippy The Bush Kangaroo in the 1960s. Other TV credits include The Box, The Evil Touch, Marion, Homicide, Power Without Glory, Carson’s Law, Outbreak Of Love, The Last Frontier and Anzacs. He had leading roles in Cop Shop and Skyways and won awards for his role in the 1978 ABC telemovie End Of Summer.

John Edwards (AM) — “For significant service to the broadcast media industry as a television producer, and as a role model and mentor.” Edwards has worked as producer on various productions including Cyclone Tracy, Police Rescue, Cody, Big Sky, The Secret Life Of Us, The Alice, Love My Way, Offspring, Rush, Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo, Paper Giants: Magazine Wars, Puberty Blues, Party Tricks, Gallipoli and The Beautiful Lie.

Peter Hitchener (OAM) — “For service to the broadcast media as a journalist and television presenter, and to the community.” Hitchener’s journalism career began in Queensland in the 1960s before moving south to Sydney in 1973 and Melbourne in 1974. He served as deputy newsreader at Melbourne’s GTV9 for over 20 years before being promoted to chief newsreader in 1998.

Kay McGrath (OAM) — “For service to children, and to the broadcast media as a journalist.” McGrath was a reporter and newsreader at Eyewitness News, Brisbane, in the 1980s before a stint co-hosting TVAM for Seven in Sydney. She returned to Brisbane in 1989 to present Seven Nightly News. She is now weekend newsreader for Seven News in Brisbane.

Barry Minster (OAM) – “For service to the community, particularly through support for charitable organisations.” Minster has been an outside broadcast manager for ABC and Seven in Melbourne before going freelance. Production credits include the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

Andrew O’Keefe (AM) — “For significant service to the broadcast media as a television presenter, and to social welfare and charitable organisations.” O’Keefe was a writer and performer in the sketch comedy series The Big Bite. He was co-host on Australia Unites: Reach Out To Africa and the 2005 TV Week Logie Awards and host of The Rich List, Deal Or No Deal, Dragon’s Den and The Chase Australia. He is co-host of Weekend Sunrise on Seven.

Julie Raines (OAM) — “For service to the performing arts as a musician and teacher.” Harpist Raines was a winner on the Showcase talent quest series. She has performed on In Melbourne Tonight as well as Carols By Candelight and TV Week Logie Awards.

Source: Governor-General Of Australia.


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Jan 26 2017

Ten downsizes newsreading teams

As the 2017 ratings year approaches, Network Ten has announced that it will be chopping three newsreaders from its network line-up.

From Monday 13 February, Ten Eyewitness News First At Five will revert to a single-newsreader format in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The Adelaide and Perth newscasts already operate with single news presenters — with Rebecca Morse and Narelda Jacobs respectively.

In Sydney, Sandra Sully will become the solo news presenter at 5pm, with former on-air partner Hugh Riminton taking on a new role as political and foreign affairs reporter.

In Melbourne, Stephen Quartermain will remain as the solo anchor, and Georgina Lewis in Brisbane.

Former Melbourne newsreader Candice Wyatt and Brisbane’s Lachlan Kennedy will move to senior reporting roles.

Ten Eyewitness News First At Five is regarded by viewers as a trusted, quality source of the latest news, plus sport and weather,” news director John Choueifate said in a statement issued by the network.

“Our viewers know that we always bring them the stories that are most important to them. We have had single presenters of our 5pm News in Adelaide and Perth for years. It makes sense to move to that model in the other cities and, at the same time, strengthen our reporting teams.”

“Hugh, Candice and Lachlan are quality journalists who add years of experience to our reporting line-up. I’m thrilled to have them back on the road.”




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Jan 19 2017

TV At 60: Viewing’s fine on GTV9

In his book Compulsive Viewing, Gerald Stone wrote that Australian television “started first in Sydney, but best in Melbourne.”

He was no doubt referring to GTV9, which actually considered itself the underdog when it was the third channel to launch in Melbourne. It would go on to become one of the biggest successes in Australian television, with a reputation described as “Hollywood on the Yarra”.

Although investors in GTV’s parent company, General Television Corporation Pty Ltd,  included a consortium of newspaper publishers, radio stations and theatre companies, the new channel was launching after rival HSV7, which had the resources of the mighty Herald and Weekly Times (HWT) media empire behind it, and ABV2, from Australia’s national broadcaster, ABC.

But GTV9, despite its modest estimation, went aggressively into the market — even before it had officially debuted. The owners spent big, while HWT ended up taking a more cautious approach to television and ran HSV like a corner store — only investing once it made a profit and paying its talent modestly. HWT also sought to protect its existing media — newspapers The Sun and The Herald and radio station 3DB. It was this contrast in approach between the two commercial channels that saw GTV take the lead and dominate for years to come.

GTV was the first station in Melbourne to conduct a trial program broadcast. On Thursday 27 September 1956, Royal Melbourne Show Day, 3DB radio announcer Geoff Corke became the first person to be seen on Melbourne television. He introduced a small array of short films from a temporary studio set up at GTV’s transmitter site on Mount Dandenong. The programs included a John Wayne film and a Terry Toon cartoon.

“The viewing’s fine on GTV Channel 9,” Corke announced.

Geoff Corke

The Melbourne Olympic Games were ready to begin in November, and while GTV9 was yet to be officially opened it had struck up a sponsorship deal with petrol company Ampol to present all-day broadcasts of Olympic Games events for the duration of competition.

Nine’s aggressive take on Olympics coverage was in contrast to ABC and Seven, which were juggling Games coverage around regular programming. The Ampol deal also saw TV sets installed at service stations across both Melbourne and Sydney to allow customers to view the Olympic Games coverage. (Sydney viewers, however, had to wait for film footage to be rushed up from Melbourne for delayed screening)

Nine also scored a coup with its coverage by signing up legendary American athlete Jesse Owens to its commentary team. Owens, visiting Australia as an official representative of President Eisenhower, joined what was already an impressive team that included sports commentators Eric Welch, Tony Charlton and Bert Bryant. Geoff Corke was also enlisted to join Nine’s commentary team.

After the Games, GTV continued to present transmissions of test patterns, music, films and some outside broadcasts in the lead up to its January launch. On Christmas Eve the channel presented a live telecast of Carols By Candlelight, an event that would become a Nine tradition more than 20 years later.

The building that housed GTV for over 50 years was a converted factory building. The property, purchased by GTV for £150,000, was originally a piano factory at the turn of the 20th century and was later a Heinz soup factory. GTV was also astute enough to purchase a property that had a scope for expansion — something that various overseas stations had not envisaged when starting up.

Keeping the original building facade, GTV constructed two large studios (including one that allowed for “cooking and homecraft demonstrations”) and kept the generously-sized cafeteria that Heinz had in place for its staff.

GTV’s conversion of the building saw the site dubbed “Television City” and would later also be home to radio station 3AK.

The original architectural impression of the GTV9 development

Nine’s official opening was to be a lavish and regal affair. On Saturday night, 19 January 1957, GTV9’s schedule started with a half-hour of celebrity interviews presented by John McMahon. The interviews were a prelude to the main event, a two-hour variety special that saw Victorian governor Sir Dallas Brooks enter Studio One by chauffeur-driven limousine before making his opening night speech in front of a packed studio audience of 400.

Radio broadcaster Terry Dear hosted the variety show which included performances by Toni Lamond and husband Frank Sheldon, ventriloquist Ron Blaskett, singer Ray Dickson with a children’s choir, indigenous performer Harold Blair, animals from Bullen’s Circus and Lou Toppano‘s 23-piece orchestra. Bob and Dolly Dyer, whose national Pick A Box show was a hit on radio and was to be adapted for TV, also made a special appearance.

One popular radio star that was also to make the transition to television was Clifford Nicholls Whitta. “Nicky”, as he was known to many, presented a daily program on 3UZ with a young sidekick, Graham Kennedy. After 30 years in radio, Nicky was destined for a career in television, being announced as a host of a planned children’s program for GTV9 early in September, 1956. Just days after the announcement, Nicky died suddenly at the age of 51 from a heart attack. Nicky’s successor at 3UZ, Happy Hammond, was to also take on the role of host of children’s show The Happy Show when it debuted during GTV’s first week of transmission.

And it was inevitable that Kennedy would also make his way to television. His appearance on an early GTV9 telethon in 1957 caught the attention of producer Norm Spencer, who was casting for his new nighttime variety show. Kennedy, then only 23 years old, was appointed host of In Melbourne Tonight.

In Melbourne Tonight

The show, which debuted on 6 May 1957 and screened five nights a week, became a hit with viewers and firmly established GTV as the leader in television variety with its mix of song and dance numbers, comedy skits and Kennedy’s ruthless mocking of the show’s sponsors. IMT also gave birth to one of TV’s greatest on-screen partnerships, when Bert Newton came across from HSV7 in 1959 and was paired up with Kennedy to present a commercial. From that time on they became longtime professional partners, not just on IMT but on later stints in both TV and radio, and friends in real life until Kennedy’s death in 2005.

IMT grew so big that it ended up having a studio made specifically for it. Studio 9 was built in 1964 as a multi-purpose studio capable of handling large scale productions. It housed IMT and hosted all sorts of major productions including New Faces, The Graham Kennedy Show, The Don Lane Show, The Ernie Sigley Show, Hey Hey It’s Saturday, The Paul Hogan Show, Family Feud, Sale Of The Century, The Daryl Somers Show, Tonight With Bert Newton, Blankety Blanks, All Together Now, The Price Is Right, The Footy Show, Burgo’s Catch Phrase, Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush, Starstuck, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Temptation, Bert’s Family Feud and Millionaire Hot Seat.

The building at 22 Bendigo Street, Richmond, the piano factory that became a soup factory and then a TV station, was sold off in 2010. GTV9’s official send-off from the building was the special Lights, Camera, Party! – Television City Celebrates, from the original Studio One that presented the official opening back in January 1957. The building facade remains but the site, including Studio 9, has been redeveloped into residential apartments, although there are links to the site’s rich TV heritage. One of the streets that runs through the estate now is called Kennedy Avenue.

Source: Broadcasting And Television, 27 January 1956, 7 September 1956, 5 October 1956, 30 November 1956. The Age, 10 September 1956, 27 September 1956, 22 November 1956, 21 January 1957. Compulsive Viewing: The Inside Story Of Packer’s Nine Network, 2000.




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Jan 07 2017

Retro Month returns to Rage

The annual tradition that is Rage‘s Retro Month kicks off again this weekend.

As has happened every January for many years now, Retro Month delves into the ABC archive of music and pop culture.

The first Saturday night instalment, which actually kicks of 12.05am Sunday 8 January, features five episodes of Countdown:

COUNTDOWN February 24th, 1980 (228: Darryl Cotton)
COUNTDOWN May 1st, 1983 (368: Lene Lovich)
LENE LOVICH It’s You, Only You (Stiff Records)
COUNTDOWN November 8th, 1981 (309: Russell Hitchcock)

AIR SUPPLY The Power Of Love (Arista)

COUNTDOWN April 6th, 1986 (503: The Venetians)
COUNTDOWN April 5th, 1981 (279: James Freud)

JAMES FREUD One Fine Day (Mushroom)

This year is actually Rage‘s 30th year on air. The show began back in April 1987.

Rage Retro Month. Every Saturday night/Sunday morning during January, ABC.

Source: Rage




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Jan 01 2017

New Year, New Classic TV Guides

TCN9, Australia’s first TV station, was launched on Sunday, 16 September 1956. The station’s first week of programs feature in the latest additions to Classic TV Guides.

TCN9’s first week of programming was a limited affair.

The period from the station’s opening night in September through to the end of October was seen largely as a test transmission phase as station technicians were still grappling with the new technology. Therefore programming hours were kept to a minimum until such time as the station made its official launch in late October and as TCN9’s sister station in Melbourne, HSV7, was to debut in November — enabling some of the big ticket overseas programs that both channels had purchased to debut at around the same time.




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